Cinematically Kubular

Ramblings about cinema and whatever else I'm thinking at the time!

Tag: Italy

Last House on the Left of the Bay of Blood

Growing up I was never a great fan of Horror cinema. With the exception of Scream (Wes Craven, 1996, US) and Evil Dead II (Sam Raimi, 1987, US) the Horror films I’d seen had come across as cheap and childish – even those that weren’t really that cheap. Even then, Scream is not a film I’ve ever really felt comfortable with categorising in my idea of the Horror genre and Evil Dead II, while conforming to my preconceptions of Horror, is a comedy.

On attending University all of this changed – I discovered the early Hammer films and Halloween (John Carpenter, 1978, US). However, even with the beginnings of an interest in horror beginning to stir, I still wasn’t getting overly excited about the genre. I was much more interested in the melodramas of John Woo (to the extent I focused my dissertation upon them). If there is one thing I can thank Northumbria University for it was a course on the European Thriller during which Peter Hutchings screened Deep Red (Dario Argento, 1975, Italy) and gave a seminar giving a brief introduction to Argento’s other films. Roll on a few years and the imagery and curiosity about those films had stuck with me.

2012 arrived and I found myself a fan of the ‘Italian Hitchock’ Dario Argento and delving deeper into the genre that I’d mostly ignored for the longest time. This lead me, naturally, to Bay of Blood (Mario Bava, 1971, Italy) which both shocked and bored me. It revived those early attitudes to Horror – it seemed to focus on the exploitation of violence and sex yet was nihilistic enough in it’s attitude (and particularly it’s conclusion) that I couldn’t bring myself to feel it had been a waste of time. There were aspects of Bay of Blood that clearly signalled a departure from the giallo films I’d fallen in love with but also a connection with the disappointing Halloween. Bay of Blood confused and excited me – confused because I wasn’t sure how to feel or what to think about it, excited me because I felt I’d found something new.

Today I reaffirmed that sensation and realised that there’s a whole side to Horror that I’m yet to explore and a psychology to it I may have to reassess. Today I watched The Last House on the Left (Wes Craven, 1972, US). For those readers that may not already know The Last House on the Left is about a teenager called Mari and her friend who are abducted and subsequently raped, leading to the murder of the rapists by Mari’s parents. The story outline, more or less, says it all; it is not only one of the grimmest and most troubling films I’ve seen but it’s also one of the most inspired.

The Last House on the Left and Bay of Blood share some common themes – there’s no clear sense of heroism or good and evil here. Only innocence and it’s corruption. It’s this corruption of innocence that sits at the heart of both films. In Bay of Blood it’s represented by a close-knit community which is threatened, along with nature, by a large commercial development. This commercial development sows the seed of corruption amongst the community and eventually leads to a series of gruesome murders. Innocence is then corrupted succinctly in its closing, and perhaps most disturbing, scene. The Last House on the Left corrupts the almost sickly innocence of Mari and the idyllic setting of Mari’s home through the acts of a group of criminals. Again, it’s the final scene of The Last House on the Left that questions the nature of these ‘idyllic’ characters. Here, the blood spattered parents of Mari are subjected to the shocked and accusatory gaze of the police.

Perhaps, the most troubling statement made by both films is that no one is perfect and even the most idyllic of paradises can be torn apart by the darker, more corrupt side of our own humanity.
There’s darkness in everyone.

Don’t Torture a Duckling

Don't Torture a Duckling

Don’t Torture a Duckling (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s been a stressful few weeks… interview after interview. Finally found myself a breather where I wasn’t having to prepare too much though and got around to watching Don’t Torture a Duckling (Lucio Fulci, Italy, 1972).

In short Don’t Torture a Duckling is a film about the liberal, experienced values of modern culture colliding with the naively superstitious values of rural Italy, with childhood innocence being caught in between. I don’t want to say too much more about it, in fear I may reveal too much. It’s both chilling and quite touching in it’s own way and concludes with one of the most tense fist fights that I’ve ever seen committed to film.

I recommend it to anyone interested in Italian cinema – especially someone who enjoys the films of Dario Argento (such as myself) or the giallo genre in general.

The Card Player

Cover of "The Card Player"

Cover of The Card Player

This’ll be quick.

The Card Player (Dario Argento, Italy, 2004) is widely reported to be an awful film. To be honest, it’s probably deserved. It’s a really strange (but actually very tense) picture with both interesting and predictable moments.

Having said that – the concept itself is genuinely quite interesting. The film discusses fate – or at least our approach to decision making when there are no certainties and chance is the real decider of any outcome. It’s this that generates the tension throughout the film – and the behaviour of the characters is genuinely quite at interesting at times.

If I’d ever seen a film that deserved a remake it would be this. Not because it’s good – but rather the opposite. It has some interesting moments and ideas but would be fascinated to see it further developed into something with a little more punch.

Having said all that, it’s a reasonable thriller – probably more interesting to watch than most made for TV offerings. Just don’t expect too much.